Safety, environmental issues with used tyres

The second-hand tyre industry in South Africa presents enormous challenges, with an estimated 63% of second-hand tyres sold in the country being illegal and unfit for road use.

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The local industry estimates the second-hand tyre market to comprise between 1.5 and 2 million tyres, with 750 000 to 900 000 of these being illegal and posing a threat to road safety.

Lubin Ozoux, CEO of tyre manufacturer Sumitomo Rubber South Africa (SRSA), which distributes the Dunlop, Sumitomo and Falken brands, highlights the detrimental impact of this issue on the entire tyre retail value chain, both financially and in terms of reputation.

“Waste tyres present environmental hazards owing to their large volume and slow decomposition rate, leading to visual pollution and potential health risks when they accumulate in landfills or are illegally dumped. In South Africa, waste tyres have also been misused during protests and riots,” he said.

“As a tyre manufacturer and member of the South African Tyre Manufacturers Conference (SATMC), we have a responsibility to ensure that the practice of selling unsafe, ill-suited and illicit second-hand tyres to unsuspecting and uninformed customers, is stopped.

“There needs to be a solid protocol for all tyre dealers to ensure that once second-hand waste tyres are correctly mutilated and have been assigned for waste pick up from their stores, they do not resurface in the market,” he added.

However, concerns persist regarding the lack of a comprehensive Tyre Waste Management Plan in South Africa, with the draft section 29 Integrated Industry Waste Management Plan for Tyres (IndWTMP) still pending finalisation.

Shaun Radbone, owner of Dunlop franchise, Orion Auto & Tyre, echoed the need for urgent attention and resolution of waste tyre management issues. "It’s unclear if a plan is in place to address this critical environmental challenge. “There is a significant lack of transparency from the relevant authorities on whether these products are being transformed into new products or used as a source of energy," he says.

The SATMC has been collaborating with the Tyre Importers Association of South Africa (TIASA), the Tyre Equipment Parts Association (TEPA) and government to ensure that steps are taken to drive improvements and sustainability in both the collection and processing of tyre waste.

Some pressure has been released by identifying additional municipal landfill sites to serve as temporary storage facilities in Limpopo Province, one in the Lepelle-Nkumpi Municipality and two under Polokwane Municipality. However, a longer-term solution is needed.

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